Lorna Shore + Distant + Cabal @ The Electric Ballroom, London
At one time in the not-so-distant past, the idea of attending a live music event of any given size, shape or form was nothing short of unthinkable, so dire and desperate was our predicament. But tonight, with Camden’s 1,500-capacity Electric Ballroom bursting at the seams with punters vacuum-packed into every conceivable nook and cranny of the generously proportioned London venue, it’s clear those dark days are finally behind us. With the Ballroom comprising the third and final of a string of venue upgrades made in order to accommodate the extraordinary demand for Lorna Shore’s explosively popular UK date, the American wrecking crew’s anticipated turn in the capital could well be one of the biggest we’ll witness all year. And all on a Tuesday night no less!
With the sizeable music hall already heaving to the rafters, Danish aggressors CABAL are greeted with an exceptionally warm welcome from the early crowd, their weightily churning grooves and caustic screams leaving listeners instantly drunk on adrenaline. Thanking audience members profusely at regular intervals in their relentlessly hyperblasting repertoire, platinum-haired frontman Andreas Bjulver is visibly astounded by the whole affair as he hurls himself bodily into the thunderous blasts and writhing riffage of ‘Innocent Blood’. Frantic in pacing and generously furnished with crushingly heavy guitars, theirs is a suitably vicious kick-off to tonight’s proceedings.
Armed to the jaggedly primitive teeth with innumerable layer upon layer of percussive blasts and vocal cord-lacerating screams, DISTANT are a deliciously ruinous proposition from the get-go. Through mammoth slabs of bone-splintering bass, the aptly-titled ‘Aeons of Oblivion’ bludgeons the listener into submission in precisely the savage, blissfully uncomplicated style we’d expect of a deathcore act operating at the peak of their brutally energised powers. Heavily laden with insanely paced percussion and gargling screams that palpably ooze ink-black malevolence, it’s hard to imagine a more unrelenting assault on the senses.
That is, until anticipated headliners LORNA SHORE bring their pulverising carnage to the capital with a presence monstrous enough to leave the venue trembling to its very foundations. With a slight, boyish frame that belies the staggering scope of his thoroughly demonic vocal talents, frontman Will Ramos dominates the stage with practised ease as the band plunge headlong into explosively popular title track ‘To the Hellfire…’. Its haunting central refrain echoing airily into the ether above a pummelling artillery of blastbeats and humongous expanses of bass, this iconic number ignites an instant frenzy among fans. “Bang your fucking head, London,” snarls a visibly elated Ramos, barely pausing for breath as the US aggressors proceed ever deeper into their high-octane back catalogue, their black clad forms faintly spectral beneath a flickering flurry of strobes.
Also taken from 2021’s critically lauded ‘…Hellfire’ EP, ‘And I Return to Nothingness…’ glimmers with apocalyptic grandeur, opening up on a luxuriant layer of organ notes as a tensely suspenseful lull descends upon the crowd. Then it’s in a great, bone-shattering implosion of hyperblasts that all proverbial hell breaks loose, these explosive episodes of aggression finding impeccable placement in amongst generous measures of whirling, elegantly sculpted riffage. Elsewhere, the crushing riffs of ‘King Ov Deception’ take ample time to work their darkly entrancing magic on the listener as this menacing number settles into a pleasingly abrasive, almost borderline frostbitten groove. But it’s not long before pure, unadulterated speed and brutality once again takes precedence, the track’s gurgling vocal contortions and chugging bass work dominating the mix. That said, both here and throughout this thoroughly punishing performance, theirs is a set punctuated with no shortage of deftly executed technical elements and atmospheric nuances. And from lacerating guitar leads and sumptuous acoustic trappings through to skull-splitting clusters of pulverising carnage, Lorna Shore’s decidedly apocalyptic strain of extreme metal makes for a satisfying live spectacle indeed.